Since the outbreak of the crisis, social dialogue has been badly harmed in the EU, said Klaus Heeger, CESI Secretary General, a position clearly set out in the European Commission’s 2012 Industrial Relations report. In this context, it is essential to both organisations to highlight the role of trade unions at EU level, reminding both employees and employers of the need for social dialogue and to denounce deadlocks concerning collective bargaining.
In the presence of the director of the Negotiating Agency for the Representation of Public Administrations, CESI representatives described the role of their organisation at EU level and explained how they defend the interests of their affiliates.
CESI’s president Romain Wolff reminded the audience that in its treaties the EU guarantees a high level of social protection and recognises the important role played by social partners. As more and more legislation is either directly or indirectly developed at EU level, it is essential for national trade unions to be represented in Brussels, to follow potential legislation which may impact them and to raise their own arguments.
Willem Gloss, president of CESI’s Trade council Central Administration and Finances (ACF), explained how social dialogue works at European level. CESI is directly or indirectly represented within 3 sectorial social dialogue bodies. These are entities where representatives of employers and trade unions meet and negotiate common texts and agreements. He specifically raised the issue of “Information and Consultation of workers” to underline the unfair lack of protection for public sector workers (see the Fitness check of the European Commission).
José Fernandez Vidal, vice-president the ACF Trade council deplores that Spanish governments are not listening enough to workers nowadays. However, he highlights the usefulness of a strong social dialogue. More than just a right, social dialogue improves working conditions and ultimately the efficiency and productivity of workers. Trust and stability in the workplace can be more easily established through these processes, enabling the development of more appropriate reforms and greater job satisfaction. Social dialogue is an element of social justice but also a factor of competitiveness, useful for both employees and employers.
In the spirit of sharing practices and experiences, Mr Paolo Nigi , Secretary General of CON F SAL (IT) described the status of industrial relations in Italy, calling for better representativeness of all trade unions both at EU and national level within social dialogue. “We see more and more labour laws taking precedence over social partners’ agreements or negotiations. This is a threat to the independence of social partners’ negotiations” he fears.
Through the example of the justice sector, Mr Battaglia, Secretary General of UNSA CON F S AL (IT) and vice-president of Trade Council ACF criticsed the lack of means dedicated to essential public services in Italy. This reduces quality of life and partly explains why the attractiveness of a country can diminish. “Is it a strategy to move little by little towards privatisation?” he asks? “It is time for a change if Italy wants to remain an appealing place for young talented people. It is time to restore hope”.